Robin Williams

“He could see I wasn’t receptive”: Robin Williams’ Charm Failed to Impress Christopher Nolan After Director Took a Massive Gamble by Casting Him Opposite Al Pacino

With his unique blend of comedy and dramatic depth, actor Robin Williams managed to establish himself as one of the most versatile and talented actors in the history of cinema. Throughout his career, which spanned roughly 4 decades, he gave many iconic performances in movies like Dead Poets Society (1989), Good Will Hunting (1997), and One Hour Photo (2002).

Robin Williams
Robin Williams

Williams worked with Christopher Nolan in his 2002 film, Insomnia. Nolan was not a huge fan of Williams’ comedic side and believed that he should take up more serious, dramatic roles. Starring alongside Al Pacino, fans got to see Williams playing a different role, an ordinary man who is a primary suspect in a murder case.

Christopher Nolan wanted Robin Williams to explore more dramatic roles

Al Pacino and Robin Williams in Christopher Nolan's Insomnia
Al Pacino and Robin Williams in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia

Director Christopher Nolan‘s Insomnia (2002) wasn’t the first time actor Robin Williams played a serious, dramatic role as he showcased his range in other films in the past like Dead Poets Society (1989) and Good Will Hunting (1997). Nolan once explained how the role brought out a different side of Williams (via BBC),

“I wasn’t interested in any kind of inversion of his comic persona, some kind of manic villain. What I wanted him to do, and what he was excited to do, was to play a character the likes of someone he’s never played before – an unexceptional character. He’s a guy who, if he was sitting next to you on the bus, you wouldn’t give a second glance. Robin’s never done that before. He’s played bad guys before, he’s done dramatic roles, but he’s never played somebody utterly ordinary.”

In the end, William gave an outstanding performance which sent chills down the spine of every viewer, establishing himself as an actor who is capable of portraying serious characters as well. Unfortunately, on August 11, 2014, Hollywood lost its gem as Williams was found dead in his home in Paradise Cay, California.

Christopher Nolan wasn’t very fond of Robin Williams’ comedy on the sets

Robin Williams and Christopher Nolan
Robin Williams and Christopher Nolan

Williams was well-known for cheering up everyone on the sets of every movie he worked in and that’s exactly what he did on the sets of Insomnia, however, Nolan recalled that he wasn’t a huge fan of it (via Seattle Pi),

“He likes to perform. He could see I wasn’t receptive to his comedy between takes, but he was always entertaining the crew. Then I’d say ‘action,’ and he’d just go right into what he was doing. I’ve seen his performance many times, and it’s scarily real. There are moments when you don’t think he was acting at all. He’s an incredible talent.”

The psychological thriller grossed roughly $114 million at the global box office on a production budget of $46 million. One of the main reasons behind the film’s success was the performances by Al Pacino and Robin Williams.

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